Saturday, August 08, 2009
The Mariners' sixth win in 10 games ran their record to 57-52 after 109 games. This pace is three games worse than the 2007 pace, but four better than 2006, 10 better than 2005, 16 better than last year, and 17 better than 2004. Fifty-seven wins is also six worse than 2000, nine worse than 2003, 10 worse than 2002, and 22 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records when netting win number 57: 57-39 in 2000, 57-21 in 2001, 57-33 in 2002, 57-34 in 2003, 57-94 in 2004, 57-76 in 2005, 57-68 in 2006, 57-46 in 2007, and 57-87 last year.
Seattle hitting went a combined 9-for-41 on the night, walking twice and striking out nine times. They also went 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners in all. After hitting only two home runs in the last four games, the Mariners erupted for three long balls, their only extra-base hits of the night. Those were turned in by Russell Branyan, Ken Griffey Jr., and Ryan Langerhans. Ichiro went 2-for-5 as the only multi-hit Mariner. Bonus points for Griffey for also drawing a walk along with his home run. Nearly every Mariner starter had a hit in the game. If they'd pulled it off, it would have been the second time in three games that would have happened. The only hitless Mariner starter was Franklin Gutierrez, who managed to walk once, but otherwise turned in an awful night with four strikeouts.
As for Mariner pitching, the bullpen was great. The starter will be mentioned below. Sean White came into the seventh inning after Felix Hernandez walked the first two hitters. A deep fly ball and a ground ball managed to push another run across to put Tampa Bay up 5-1 at that point. White got a Willy Aybar lineout to end that threat. White threw five strikes on 10 pitches but got outs from all three hitters he faced. After the game had gone extra innings tied 5-5, David Aardsma, seemingly rehabbed from the boil on his rump, allowed only a two-out walk in the 10th, but struck out the side, showing no ill effects. Aardsma threw 15 strikes on 23 pitches. Finally, Shawn Kelley came out for the 11th and got the leadoff hitter out before Jason Bartlett demolished a 3-1 pitch and homered to left, making it 6-5 for the Rays. That definitely wasn't the first time in the game where it looked bleak for Seattle. Carl Crawford then singled before Kelley got it together and set down the final two hitters. Kelley threw 11 strikes on 16 pitches. He gave up one run on two hits in his inning of work, walking none and striking out one, and facing five hitters to get three outs.
1) Ryan Langerhans
He's in the number-one spot based solely on his awesomeness-per-time ratio for the night. Mike Sweeney was hit with a pitch in the seventh, and Langerhans ran for him. Since Sweeney had hit for Michael Saunders, Langerhans stayed in and took Saunders' spot in left. Langerhans came up in the bottom of the ninth with two out. He battled in the at-bat to a full count and finally whiffed on the eighth pitch to end the inning. Then came the 11th. Langerhans came up to bat with Gutierrez on second and two out. He got a 2-2 hanging curveball from JP Howell and put a good lickin' on it, sending it into the night. More accurately, that's just into the rightfield seats, but it ended the game with a 7-6 win for the Mariners. I've been thinking most of the past two weeks that Langerhans is basically screwed in terms of playing time due to the youth movement in Seattle. In Langerhans' case, the leftfield at-bats are going mostly to Saunders, and it doesn't help Langerhans that he, like Saunders, hits lefthanded.
2) Mark Lowe
The Mariners' go-to setup man didn't have a lead to hold on to, but after the Mariners tied the game at 5-5, Lowe came in and threw the eighth and ninth innings. More accurately, Lowe threw a perfect eighth and followed it up with a perfect ninth. Mark Lowe threw 12 strikes out of 18 pitches, getting three groundouts to two flyouts. It'd be good for Lowe to get on a hot streak again since he was scored upon in four of his 13 appearances in the month of July. Curiously, even with getting scored upon four times in July, Lowe's season ERA never got higher than 3.49. He's currently at a 3.16 ERA for the season. Though I just pointed out how Lowe got scored upon in July, it was his best month in terms of walk-to-strikeout ratio, as he struck out 12 and walked four. He's following that up so far this month with five more strikeouts and zero walks in three appearances. It's going to be too bad when the Mariners have to let this guy go because his pay day is going to be too big, but I've liked this guy ever since the Mariners brought him up and he had that insane scoreless streak.
The beat goes on and on. For the Mariners' leadoff hitter, it was another night and another two-hit game. Ichiro has gathered exactly two hits per game in every game so far in August (six games). In his current seven-game hitting streak, Ichiro has gone 13-for-34 (.382) with one home run (.471) and four RBIs. Ichiro is now hitting .365 on the season and has now accumulated 163 hits on the season, putting him on pace to finish with 249 hits. Ichiro is now 32 hits away from his 2000th Major League hit and 37 away from his ninth straight 200-hit season, something which has never been achieved in Major League Baseball. Every time I type out the 2000 hits thing, I wonder what it'll take to get Ichiro into the Hall of Fame. Two-thousand hits in itself probably won't be enough, right? I think 2500 plus the stuff he did in Japan definitely will get him into the Hall of Fame. If he manages to stick around in the Major Leagues long enough to get 3000 hits, he's an automatic lead-pipe cinch to get into the Hall of Fame.
Lately in this space I've had to talk about Jason Vargas and Garrett Olson and how it seems like a switch was flipped at the All-Star break. Vargas and Olson have been pretty bad after the All-Star break, and now Vargas has been sent down. While he hasn't completely sucked, Felix Hernandez has lost the radar a bit in his last three starts. On July 27th, Toronto made him look completely hittable, amassing 11 hits and homering twice and chasing Felix in the sixth inning. In his next start, Felix got through seven innings and got the win, but walked four hitters. This time around, Felix got into the seventh, but walked an ungodly six hitters. Granted, his defense wasn't helping him early in the game. The first ball in play of the game was misplayed by Jack Wilson, but Felix escaped the first inning unscathed. Adrian Beltre was eaten up by a grounder in the second inning, and a run scored on the play to tie the game at 1-1. Also in the same inning -- two passed balls by Rob Johnson. When Felix pitches, it seems Johnson always has tons of trouble with the pitches in the dirt, but one of these just went clear off his glove on a normal pitch. Anyway, Pat Burrell clubbed a homer in the fifth that made it 4-1, and White let one of his runners across after he left the game. Felix gave up five runs (three earned) on five hits in six-plus innings, walking six (ugh again) and striking out seven. He threw 70 strikes out of 113 pitches, got seven groundouts to four flyouts, and faced 31 hitters to get 18 outs.
Now we'll see Ian Snell make his Seattle home debut. Hopefully we'll see him lay down the Law, with the result being refracted Rays. Lame? Yes.